Transcript: Clients all the time ask me well, what should I do if I get pulled over, and sometimes they call me as they’re getting pulled over. And here it’s very straight forward in Arizona. If you’re pulled over be polite and cooperative with the officer. Give them your name, your paperwork, whatever they require in terms of that.
But, you need to stop at that point. If you’ve had more than two beers do not tell the officer how much you’ve had to drink, do not agree to take field sobriety tests. Those are optional in Arizona. You do not have to take them. Immediately ask to speak to a lawyer. As soon as the officer comes up to your window say I’d like to call my lawyer.
Now, a lot of times clients will ask me and they’ll say well gee, won’t that make the officer mad? Sure, and you may get arrested, but the reality is if you’ve had more than you should you were gonna get arrested anyway. And the question is are you gonna give the officer evidence that he or she can use to prosecute you or are you not going to give them that evidence.
The only thing you’re required to do in Arizona is to submit to a blood test or a breath test. So if you do get arrested and you’re taken to a police station and the officer says alright, I want you to take a breath or a blood test, go ahead and do it.
And if you were calling me, I would tell you the same thing because if you don’t, number one, they will almost always get a search warrant allowing them to draw your blood. And number two, your license will then be suspended for one year as a punishment for not voluntarily submitting to the blood or the breath test. And they of course would get to tell the jury if we’re at trial that you refused to voluntarily cooperate.
So again, if you’re pulled over, paperwork, name, identification, ask for a lawyer, but do not do any roadside exercises, do not discuss how much you’ve had to drink and voluntarily go ahead and submit to a blood or a breath test.
People often ask me is it possible to fight a DUI, and it is absolutely possible to fight a DUI. And I think that question really gets to do I need a lawyer, should I get a lawyer? And again, the answer to that is absolutely.
And I would say two things about that. Number one, you know, can you buy a house without a realtor or a title company? Sure. Do you want to? No. And you know there’s a lot of similarity in that situation to dealing with a criminal case. It’s very complex. There are a lot of moving pieces in a DUI. You’ve got the criminal charges, you have the licensing issues in terms of a license suspension.
And then you may have a breath test machine requirement and you’re trying to coordinate license suspensions, breath test machines, criminal charges. If you have a professional license, if you’re a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher, you know you may have an issue where they’re trying to suspend your fingerprint clearance card or restrict your professional license. A lawyer can help with all of those things.
There’s two parts to my job. Number one is to thoroughly investigate your case to make sure that the government is not getting at you unless they can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. You know, they have to get through me before they get to you. That’s the most important part of my job.
The second part of my job is just helping you to understand what are the laws, what am I facing, helping you through this whole process, going to court with you, answering all of your questions. And at the Law Offices of John Phebus we are there from day one until the case wraps up, however long that may be. So if we resolve your case and six months or a year from now you’ve got a problem with a breath test machine you call me, that’s taken care of. We’re already in the loop.
So you absolutely want a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer you’re giving up any chance of getting anything better than a DUI. You’ve got to have a lawyer.
If you hire a lawyer you do need to go to court, but the lawyer can greatly minimize the number of court appearances and the impact on your life.
Now, there’s felonies and there’s misdemeanors. Felonies are major crimes that you can be sent to state prison for. If you’re charged with a felony, in that type of case you’ve got to go to every single court appearance. The lawyer has to be there, you have to be there, you cannot waive your presence absent exceptional circumstances.
If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, which is the vast majority of DUIs, then your lawyer can normally attend almost all of your court settings without you having to go. So for the vast majority of my clients in a DUI context I’m going to court for them, they’re not bothered with it. I will have them come to court typically one time, and that’s we’re having a trial or the case is being resolved in some advantageous way, but they’re not having to go to court repeatedly, I’m taking care of that.
Clients always want to know, do they have to go to jail if they’re convicted of a DUI, or if they’re charged with a DUI. There is jail time if you get convicted of the underlying DUI charge. That’s required by law in Arizona. If you are, and it’s based typically on how high your alcohol level is, if you’re between a .08 percent and a .15 percent the minimum is one day in jail. If you’re between a .15 and a .20 the minimum is two days in jail with seven days of home detention in most jurisdictions. And if you’re over a .20 the minimum is three days in jail with eleven days of home detention.
Now there’s a lot of variability to that, and of course the goal is always to try to avoid the DUI conviction. If you can get the case thrown out, if you can get it dropped from a DUI down to a reckless driving, which is a very common end point in DUI cases, then there’s no mandatory jail. But I’m always very clear with clients, and you need to understand going into this that if you lose you may have to do some jail time. The goal is to avoid that. It just depends on the facts of the case.
Oftentimes I’ll get calls from people who have been arrested for DUI as a result of prescription medication, and they’re shocked. And the question is how can I get a DUI when I’m taking the medication that my doctor prescribed? Well, if you are impaired in Arizona by anything, whether it’s alcohol, caffeine or prescription drugs, you can be cited for DUI.
Now those cases can be very difficult for the State to prove, and they are great cases to fight, but two things. Number one, just be aware if you are driving and you’re taking oxycodone and you’re impaired in terms of your ability to operate your car, you can get a DUI, so don’t take, you know, excessive amounts of prescription medication and drive.
And then number two, if you are pulled over be polite and cooperative but do not volunteer to the officer that you’ve been taking medication and do not agree to take any roadside exercises, field sobriety tests. That will not help you. Nobody does well on those tests. And of course call myself or any other good qualified DUI lawyer immediately if you are cited with a prescription drug case, because they can have very serious consequences.
I’d like to take a minute to talk about driver’s license issues and DUI cases, which are critical. When you’re pulled over by an officer and cited for a DUI normally the officer is gonna take your driver’s license and tell MVD, the Motor Vehicle Department, that you’ve been charged with a DUI. Fifteen days from the date you were arrested your license would normally be suspended.
Now, at the Law Offices of John Phebus we can delay and fight that suspension. That’s part of what we do as your lawyer. But it is critical that you do not delay and that you contact me immediately so that we can request that MVD hearing. If you call me on day 16, I cannot fight your license suspension.
Additionally, if you are convicted of a DUI you will be ordered to install a breath test machine, an ignition interlock device, on your car from anywhere from six months to 24 months if it’s a second offense. It’s critical that you have somebody on your side who understands how that works to ensure that you are getting the minimum penalty possible and to help you in the event that MVD is being unfair or telling you to do something that’s not legally permissible.